TR and the Norwegian Royal Family

Feb 04, 2014

Upon the completion of Theodore Roosevelt's post-presidential safari, he and his son Kermit were joined by TR's wife Edith and daughter Ethel for a tour of Europe. One of the reasons for this tour was that Roosevelt planned to stop in Norway to formally accept his Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the prize in December 1906 but was unable at that time to accept it in person.

Theodore Roosevelt aboard the

Theodore Roosevelt aboard the "Queen Maud" in Norway, 1910. From the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site collection.

In a letter that was written a year after his European tour, Theodore Roosevelt described his experiences in Norway. He spent at least five pages of this lengthy letter (pages 87-91) discussing his time in Norway. He was very complimentary of his experiences there. Roosevelt was delighted with the new King and Queen and especially their son, Olaf. Norway had recently separated from Sweden, and this was the first truly Norwegian king in quite some time.

He described how much the Roosevelts enjoyed the royal family in this passage: “At Christiana [sic] we were taken at once to the palace, where we stayed; and I could hardly speak too strongly of King Haakon, Queen Maud and little Olaf. They were dears; we were genuinely sorry, when we left them, to think that we would never see them again; if ever Norway decides to turn Republic we would love to have them come to live near Sagamore Hill.”

Later in the letter, TR describes the royal family itself: “They were as simple and unpretentious as they were good and charming. Olaf was a dear little boy, and the people at large were immensely pleased with him. The king was a trump, privately and publicly; he took a keen and intelligent interest in every question affecting his people, treated them, and was treated by them, with a curiously simple democracy of attitude, which was free from make-believe on either side, and therefore free from the offensive and unpleasant characteristics that were evident in, for instance, the relations of Louis Philippe and the Parisian populace, and while he unhesitatingly and openly discussed questions with his ministers never in the slightest way sought to interfere with or hamper their free action. The Queen was a dear; shy, good, kind, very much in love with her husband, devoted to her boy, anxious to do anything the people expected from her.”

TR also told an especially delightful story about Prince Olaf. TR related that Olaf was “not a bit spoiled; his delight was a romp with his father, and he speedily pressed Kermit and Ethel, whom he adored, into the game. In the end I too succumbed and romped with him as I used to romp with my own children when they were small. Outside of his own father and mother we were apparently the only persons who had ever really played with him in a fashion which he considered adequate; and he loudly bewailed our departure.”

Posted by Keri Youngstrand on Feb 04, 2014 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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